Friday, October 6, 2017

Don't Walk Backwards

Somewhere between Temples 23 and 24 a wonderful sight can be seen. The walk typically takes about three days and for the entire time you walk along the side of the main highway running down the east coast of the island. For those that aren't particularly fond of walking with traffic flying by within arm's reach, this isn't one of the best sections of the pilgrimage. Especially if it is raining every day. Doubly especially if it is raining and hot, so inside your rain suit it feels like a sauna. Days like this can be loud, uncomfortable, and monotonous.

One way to deal with the monotony is to turn inwards, to take the backwards step and turn this section of the walk into a three day walking meditation practice. Put the feet on autopilot, set the senses aside, and simly walk. This doesn't mean turning the senses off, tuning out everything you hear, see, and smell; it only means turning off your attachment to what comes in through the sense gates. What comes in, comes in. What the eye sees, it sees. What the ears hear, they hear. If your feet are wet, they are wet. All this means is giving up any attachment to what comes in. Giving up any expectation for sense experiences you want to have. What comes in, comes in. Accept it and let it go. Don't hold on to it or dwell on it. Just walk, letting experiences take care of themselves. Notice everything but attach to nothing.

As you settle in, there will come a time when this practice is just as sacred as any time you spend on your meditation cushion at home.

But, there is another way to approach this section of the trail, which can also be taken back home when you return. Instead of tuning everything out, tune everything in. Instead of looking for the sacred inside, in an attempt to avoid what is without, notice the sacred in everything. Notice that there is nothing that is not sacred, no matter how mundane it may appear on the surface.

Instead of trying to cross that threshold into the world of the sacred, see that there is no threshold, there is no 'this side' or 'that side,' that there is no sacred or mundane. There is only This. There is only what is. And that 'what is' encompasses everything in existence; nothing is, or can be, excluded.

It takes a lot of effort, but it can be done. Look at everything and see that its existence is just as wonderful as that of a newborn baby, alive and just beginning this journey we call being alive. Look at the waves crashing on the shore and say 'how marvelous.' Look at the mountains to your right and say 'how marvelous.' Look at the rain splashing on the sidewalk, or the puddles that you inevitably have to walk through and say 'how marvelous.' Look at the cars, trucks, and buses on the road and say 'how marvelous.' Notice the pain from the blister on your foot and say 'how marvelous.' Instead of tuning out, tune in. Tune into everything, every perception, and marvel at its existence. Marvel at the beauty of exitence in all its shapes, forms, and colors.

Marvel at the wonderfulness of existence. Marvel at the oneness of everything that manifests as existence. Instead of noticing nothing, notice everything. Notice that that everything is one thing, but not even a thing. Everything is one. Existnece. Even though it appears to be manifesting as many.

As you walk along the highway between Temples 23 and 24, spend your three days marveling at the wonderousness of existence. At this amazing thing called Being. And this ability we were granted at birth to see it, to experience it, to grow into it, to melt into it. As you walk along this stretch of highway thank life for granting you this opportunity to step out of the beautiful scenery of the mountains and into this beautiful scenery of existence.

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